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Work Package 5 (WP5): Extending and Strengthening the Collaboration Platform


The main goal of this activity is the exchange of service definitions and the harmonization of protocols, tools and services in order to promote the smooth operation and deployment of collaborative research environments for communities in both continents.

In particular this activity will involve the design of a pilot, integrated common platform involving authentication, authorization, information management and federated access to resources, ensuring seamless provisioning of collaborative services across the EU and LA.

The goal of the pilot platform is the actual demonstration of the possibility for e-Infrastructure providers in both continents to develop collaborative services for their users, providing them with the possibility to make use of single sign on to access federated services, building on top of a core set of interoperable components.

Irrespective of the specific underlying infrastructure (based on hardware or IaaS provided cloud resources) in both EU and LA, Interoperability for the deployed services will be achieved by the common adoption of interoperable standards for interfacing the underlying infrastructural resources. For example, this might imply the provisioning of wiki, web-conferencing, or a basic cloud storage service, all accessed through interoperable federations of identities (inter-federation of resources), so that users in LA and EU will be faced to the same functionality and interfaces to access these tools (wiki, web conferencing, working storage, etc), possibly making use of the same set of credentials through single sign on in both continents. Therefore the adoption and enforcement of emerging standards in both continents will be key to the activities carried out within this work package.

In particular the work package goals are:

  • To agree on a strategy to integrate collaboration services in EU and LA. To agree on a set of collaboration tools based on Open Source components to which European and LA research institutions will have access in a transparent way
  • To share a set of tools and ensure a long term agreement on continuous development of such tools in both side of the Atlantic
  • To agree on a common platform including all those tools where researchers from both continents will find what they need for an adequate collaboration activity
  • To study the possibility of providing this type of services integrated in a Cloud Computing Strategy by means of a demonstrative pilot project which will demonstrate federated, seamless access to services implemented on both sides of the atlantic.
  • To provide a Pilot Service for Researchers of Europe and Latin America allowing them to collaborate by means of a unique platform through single sign on to access collaborative services.

Description of work and role of partners

Collaboration Services based on web platforms are becoming popular tools for collaboration everywhere and academic networks are not the exception. Services like wikis, blogs, web-conferencing, etc. are common for regional networks, NRENs and their customers. For the most part, regional networks like these (RedCLARA, GÉANT, etc.), share goals and application needs. Nevertheless, currently there are no efforts to integrate these services across the regions. This WP will be focussed on defining the basic policies and procedures for the interoperability of these web-based collaboration platforms between GÉANT and RedCLARA. The main idea is set the ground for international cooperation for end-user services. Through service cooperation, RedCLARA and GÉANT will be able to improve their offering of services, the efficiency, and visibility by taking advantage of deployments carried out in the other regions.

RedCLARA has been empowering research communities in Latin America by providing open-source custom applications for their activities. The RedCLARA Portal service offers to its communities an integrated set of tools: Wiki, Blogs, Webconference (BBB), Conference Management (Indico), Document Repositories (DSpace), Streaming Video (Red5) and soon other publishing tools. All of this with a single sign-on. Equally, a Large-file-transfer system has been developed in the TERENA context that overcomes the difficulty of using e-mail and simplifies the security problems of opening FTP servers.

On the RedCLARA Portal, users are authenticated as being part of an institution connected to a RedCLARA NREN by requesting that they register using an institutional e-mail. This is not a very secure way of authenticating users. The first part of the work will focus on defining a robust authentication system possibly based on eduGAIN to implement an interoperable and/or joint service deployment.

The work will then focus on defining the tools that will be supported on a common collaboration platform. The choice includes but is not limited to: Webconference (BBB), Conference Management (Indico), Document Repositories (DSpace), Streaming Video (Red5), Calendar, Large File Transfer, basic ubiquitous-access storage resources (DropBox-like tools like Syncany), etc. The agreement shall include definitions of implementation agreements, such as creating a large cloud-type service or not, licensing and branding.

Given that the RedCLARA Portal already includes several of these tools, we propose to extend the Portal to include the new services and implement a Pilot Portal for the services of communities on both sides of the Atlantic. The implementation of the Pilot should allow for a unified access with single sign-on and a white branding that permits the creation of NREN-controlled portals with separate user databases. Nevertheless, the application should behave for the users as a single service allowing them to create cross-domain user communities that may use the services in a seamless way.

Future implementation should permit scalability of this type of portal by creating a Cloud Service where the users may be the NRENs or other large user groups, such as the FP7’s Network of Excellence.

T.5.1 –Definitions of a communities services’ space between Latin-America and Europe
Leader: RedCLARA
Through this activity, RedCLARA and GÉANT will work on the definition of a set of tools and services that encourage the functioning and deployment of education research communities. For instance, the Web-conferencing tool allows communities to have meetings more frequently, improving their knowledge-sharing. By agreeing on these elements, RedCLARA and the GÉANT community would be able to design an interregional collaboration framework.

The definition of the communities services space will be carried out by performing the following activities:

a) Creation of a Researchers Consulting Group (RCG) formed by leaders of 7 EU-LA Collaboration Projects funded by either FP6 or FP7. These leaders will contribute through periodic meetings (quarterly) where they will be able to contribute their knowledge of the scientific community of both continents as well as their experience in user needs. The choice will include projects from several disciplines, not only information technology groups.

b) Interviews with leaders of e-infrastructures projects who have been strongly related to the development of applications (and usage policies) for science and research such as GISELA, EVALSO, AugerAccess, GLOBAL, CHAIN, OpenBio, etc,

c) To perform a user needs survey to be applied to during the first semester of the project to the scientific and research communities identified by WP6.

T.5.2 Agreement for Information Technology infrastructure standards, tools and integration protocols for a Community Services Framework between Latin America and Europe
Leader: GARR
The planned communities’ services require a complete information technology design that includes elements like:

a) How authentication and authorization shall work
b) How to federate resources
c) Base hardware and software infrastructure to support the services (cloud, grid, shared resources),
d) Services location and functioning
e) Provided functionality by the services
f) Design guidelines for new service's implementations.

Both networks, RedCLARA and GEANT, already make use of information technology resources and have defined strategies.

The idea behind this task is to identify how infrastructure could be shared and/or used between the organizations in order to accomplish the common goal, taking into account emerging standards for the provisioning of community services and current related developments (i.e. availability of cloud platforms and supported hardware, user-friendly developments in the provisioning of cloud services, recommendations and trends on cloud platforms related to the possible integration with public IaaS providers and interoperation at the infrastructural level (eg. EGI Federated Clouds Task Force, Helix Nebula) ).

T.5.3. Service models definitions for communities services between Latin-America and Europe
Leader: RedCLARA
RedCLARA and GÉANT have similar organisational structures to serve their regions. Both organisations have different NRENs per country. In this task, the plan is to develop a service model scheme for this structure. When each service arrives, there are common questions such as: whether the service will be deployed by the NREN or by the regional network; who will provide support; how NREN visibility can be improved through this work. The service model shall answer these questions by defining the main guidelines for how a service shall be presented, promoted, supported and what the relation between the regional networks and their respective NRENs will be like.

T.5.4 – Implementing a Pilot EU-LA collaboration service
Leader: RedCLARA
The work on this task would be to develop a demonstrative Pilot to actually demonstrate the provisioning of a common service in both EU and LA through single sign on ( i.e. on demand storage, wiki, web conferencing, etc.) by means of resources spanning both continents. The main idea behind the pilot is to test service implementation with different databases, and authentication parties. The pilot will serve also to show a how a common production implementation would work.

Key elements for the demonstrative pilot are :

1. Federated access to a gateway portal to access relevant services which will be implemented by means of resources based in both the EU and LA,
2. The adoption of agreed, common workflows, platforms and protocols for instantiating services and resources in both EU and LA (along the guidelines drawn by Task T5.2)
3. An Integrated cloud environment to instantiate on demand resources ( which might include Storage Space, Computing Resources, Software-as-a-Service).

The pilot will summarize and demonstrate the activities carried out within WP5 to extend the EU-LA collaborative platform by implementing and actually demonstrating at least two among the following services, all possibly falling in the domain of infrastructural collaboration between EU and LA:

a) Federated Cloud Storage provisioning service
b) Federated Provisioning of Computing resources (IaaS)
c) The provisioning of general purposes Scientific Gateways embedding relevant applications and tools for the user communities, with emphasis on the very large Virtual Research Communities spanning both EU and LA
d) The provisioning of a Software-as-a-Service service, providing access to specific applications or tools in a Cloud based approach by means of a specific cloud platform
e) Web Conferencing service
f) Federated INDICO service for event agenda and management
g) Federated Wiki provisioning for both EU and LA researchers
h) Large File Transfer spanning EU and LA resources

In order to include effective service validation by end users in the overall development process, to improve the quality of the results, this work package will make use of the following strategy:

a) A prototype portal will be deployed and evaluated with a closed group of expert users. After implementing the users’ feedback and corrections, the portal will begin a beta test phase.
b) The work group will carry out a research for users and communities with projects in LA and EU that could use the services offered.
c) Invite the above users to use the service in the beta environment. The ideal candidates will be a person that uses a similar service in local way or it is requiring it.
d) To contact the above users and invite them to use the service in beta phase. In order to receive comments from these users, one of the following alternatives will be implemented:

- Each service will redirect to a small survey when the user is logging out. The above will allow to get a
continuous feedback with most of the test users. Users’ feedback reports will be done on months 18 and 22.
- Send and online survey to the testing users.


The ELCIRA project is funded by the EC FP7 - e-Infrastructures Programme DANTERENATARNPGARRRedIRISTERENARedCLARAEC - FP7 Programme - e-Infrastructures